24 March 2017


I wish I could say I take this seriously, because I really would support it (with a caveat that I would want the Petition to explicitly state that California intends to invite other Western States to join a new union of Pacifica), but I don't think there's any chance at all this could actually happen. 

A Brief History of Secession (Why Calexit might not be as crazy as you think)   by Richard Striner 
from American Scholar, Spring 2017 


22 March 2017

Demanding a Bipartisan Commission with Subpena Power and a Special Prosecutor

And I just sent this to my two senators and my Congressman: 

Dear. []: 

The questions being raised in the Comey hearings and more generally constitute a constitutional crisis. Democrats must present a united front, and demand a bipartisan commission, with subpoena power, and the appointment of a special prosecutor to get to the bottom of all the issues raised, including tax returns, Russian influence, any collusion with the Russians, emoluments and conflicts of interest of the president and all top executive officials, and any other related issues. The cloud of suspicion and probable cause to believe multiple impeachable offenses may have been committed is not serious enough that Democrats should say that UNTIL these processes are in place and functioning, they will not consent to any routine business, confirmations (including of Gorsuch), or legislation not actually an emergency. If they want to proceed on their own, so be it, but I don't think they can. This situation is grave and cannot go on. 

Thank you. 

Rejecting Gorsuch on Legitimacy Grounds

I keep pluggin' away. This is what I sent to my two Senators just now. 

Dear (Sen. Wyden): (Sen. Merkley): 

I believe Democrats must stand against any Supreme Court nomination of this president for two reasons: 

1. The seat was stolen. This hurts the court, as Dahlia Lithwick has stated. Democrats should say that they will not consent to any nominee other than Mr. Garland. Let them approve the nominee on their own... if they can... and if they kill the filibuster, that's on them, and we lose nothing from it anyway. They will do it eventually regardless, and in the meantime we get nothing. 

2.  There is a serious cloud over this presidency and its legitimacy. The Republicans refused to even hold hearings on the flimsy idea that the president had only a little MORE than a year to go. Well, this president has called into question his legitimacy, his fundamental mental health, and whether there is probable cause to believe he may have committed multiple impeachable offenses. No nominee for the SCOTUS from this president should even be considered until these issues are resolved, and Democrats should say so in a united front. 


Thank you. 


21 March 2017

Trump like Tyler

My friend Sam says Trump will go down in history like John Tyler (who became president when Harrison died suddenly). Weak, despised, unpopular, and ineffectual. 

I kinda hope he's right. 

20 March 2017

It's time to say it ~



Trump's Divisiveness

    It's absolutely amazing that Trump's approval is as HIGH as 37%.

    It is also significant that it remains the case that a very large majority of Republicans still supports him. That will probably rule out impeachment. I hate to acknowledge that, but I think it's true. The Republicans in Congress will not do it, because they can't see that it will help their re-election prospects. The era, if there ever was one, of responsibility in American politics, is over.

    Still, think about it. Almost 75% of Republicans support Trump, but his national support is only half that. That means almost everyone else doesn't support him. (Remember, nonvoters and Independents outnumber both Republicans and Democrats). It also means our nation is divided more sharply not only ideologically but regionally, in terms of social class, and, to varying lesser degrees racially and ethnically, as never before.

    What a dreadful situation. We must strive in every way, being more active than ever, to bring about change from the bottom up!

National Popular Vote Interstate Compact

I just mailed a whole slew of postcards to state representatives and senators here in Oregon urging support for the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Already passed in Washington, California, New York, Illinois and enough other states to combine to 165 electoral votes, the uniform statute, when enacted by enough states to amount to 270, will take effect, requiring those states' electors to be pledged to vote for the candidate who WON THE POPULAR VOTE, as tallied in the official vote tally. The law is expected to pass muster in the courts as a proper Interstate Compact, because under existing case law where powers of the Federal Government under the Constitution are not involved, interstate compacts do not require Congressional approval. The governing portion of the Constitution, a mere 17 words, is very clear in granting the exclusive power to the states to determine how their electors would be chosen. (In fact, the current winner take all in 48 of the 50 states is not in the Constitution, and did not come to predominate until the 1880s).

If your state has not already passed NPV, please get involved in getting it passed. 2 of the last 5 elections did not result in the person who won the vote of the people becoming president. This must never be allowed to happen again.

PLEASE GET INVOLVED to make sure that is the case.


Democrats must vote against Gorsuch. Period. That seat was stolen, and the theft must not be ratified. He could be Jesus Christ and I would still maintain this as a matter of principle. (And he isn't... he is a very, very misguided human being, as even the slightest examination of his record will show). 

16 March 2017

What the future of American Health Care should look like

It's not too early to assume that we will win. On every front. Specifically, on health care: I believe that, at minimum, a public option added to a somewhat tweaked ACA (with, for example, built in negotiations for pharmaceutical prices and medical equipment prices), plus lowering the enrollment age for Medicare to 55 and adding Vision and Dental, all paid for by increased taxes on the wealthier among us, is what we must fight for. (Since people in the higher end of Middle Class will be paying less in health care premiums, the increased taxes will be largely or even entirely offset; only the very rich will pay dramatically more, AS THEY SHOULD).

Then, gradually, Medicare enrollment can be narrowed from both ends. First, Medicaid for children can be rolled into Medicare (to age 18). Then the enrollment age for Medicare can be reduced to 45 and increased to 25, then, a few years later, Medicare for All can be rolled out.

Private Insurers will be impacted, of course, but Switzerland, France and Germany have a regulated NONPROFIT private insurance system, and so do we (minus the nonprofit part, but that can be mandated), even for Medicare. It's called Medicare Advantage. Personally, I think a pure socialist system is better, but the entrenched interests in this country probably preclude that for some time at least. And Medicare for All with ZERO SUBSIDY Medicare Advantage would work out pretty well. In the long run private management can't really compete with public options for paying for medical care, and fewer and fewer people will elect to pay high added premiums for relatively little value. (Right now, thanks to Republicans, Medicare Advantage amounts to a large subsidy for those people well enough off to pay a portion of the added cost for private plans... Medicare Advantage patients cost about 20% more than baseline Medicare patients. You rarely hear that mentioned in all of this). But if it does compete, then fine, I have no objection to private management. Many state Medicaid programs are managed by health insurers already.

Health Care Debate

This op-ed in the NY Times reflects the intellectual bankruptcy of the Right on the health care debate. 

Titled " Don't try to fix Obamacare, Abolish It," it purports to stand on the "principle" that what Republicans should do is to address costs, not coverage numbers, to make health insurance more affordable. It includes a single paragraph to morally justify the position taken (because ultimately, as a moral imperative, a health care policy must be about providing health care to the citizens, not reducing costs falling mainly on ultra-wealthy high bracket taxpayers). 

"Increasing competition and choice would lower prices for all kinds of insurance. Lower prices would free up corporate dollars for other things like innovation and jobs. Lower prices would also make it far more affordable for Americans to buy their own insurance than wait for government to subsidize it."

​But this is BS. Any honest economist will admit that health care is intrinsically a case of market failure. There is no health care delivery system in the world, never has been, never will be, that operates on free market rules. It simply does not work. Health care is not a profit center. It is a necessity, that must be paid for from the productivity of the economy as something that simply must be provided. Like clean water, electricity, sanitation, roads, bridges, railroads, air travel... all of these, to one degree or another, are not pure free market systems, but are subsidized by public wealth transfers. 

And there is absolutely no evidence that "free market principles" have ever resulted in lower health care costs. Just the opposite. The market incentive in health care is to deny sick and infirm people health care, so that they will die and rid the system of unprofitable cost centers. Unregulated or minimally regulated private insurance has much higher administrative costs, and most of its man hours are spent trying to minimize the delivery of health care, which is ultimately counterproductive. 

We need publicly financed health care, with sensible regulation to focus on prevention and health outcome, not maximized services delivery, and reasonable standards to avoid excessive costs. This works in many other countries, and it's time for us to admit that our system, even under Obamacare, does not work very well. We spend 20% of our GDP on health care, while most developed countries spend more like 10%. 

This Right Wing voodoo economic view of health care will make matters worse (as will the half-measures of the current Republican health plan, which is more a tax cut than a real health care plan). We must face facts and move towards an Enhanced Medicare for All system as soon as possible. ​

08 March 2017

Republican Health Care 101

Please, can we just stipulate to apply some modicum of honesty and logic to the health care mess? The Republican bill needs to be renamed for what it is: The Unaffordable Care Act. It's really pretty simple. You can't keep a few popular chestnuts, while radically cutting benefits (both Medicaid and subsidies for lower income people who can barely afford insurance under the current law), eliminating virtually all the tax provisions (which are relatively progressive) in the current law, doing nothing about out of control prescription drug and medical services prices, and not get the obvious result:

  • Far fewer people covered by insurance; more people uninsured, including children, more people die needlessly due to cruel public policy; AND
  • The deficit spending on health care will balloon all out of proportion, because they've eliminated virtually all the revenue.

Of course, after destroying the whole purpose and mechanisms of the ACA, which weren't great but at least afforded folks some help, they will just declare victory and watch the incredible destructiveness of their mean and stupid policies unfold.

For shame, Republicans! You are not only mean, you're cheap, greedy, favor the rich over the poor (how Christian of you), and you lie constantly and systematically. Swell folks.

07 March 2017

Mildly optimistic post on health care

I have something mildly optimistic to say (for a change). The Republicans' stupid health care bill is probably so bad, in different ways, even from their own points of view (because they are divided on this issue even more than some others), that it may very well fail to pass entirely. Which will mean that when (not if) Democrats retake control of the Legislative and Executive branches again, we can actually pass a major improvement that includes, at minimum, a public option. For a variety of reasons discussed at length already during the long debate pre-and post- passage of the ACA, that will eventually lead to a National Health Care system with private option for rich people. I can live with that.

Other piece of good (not as good) news: even if they pass this piece of shit, it's enough like the ACA that, although it will actually be far worse fiscally and really will be in a death spiral almost right out of the gate, it, too, will form the basis for the same reforms, so ditto.

Trump's Worst Deal: New Yorker Exposé on incredible corruption in the Trump Org. dealing in Azerbaijan


Please read this. (I'm pretty sure you can link to it without a subscription; the New Yorker considers exposing the corruption of the Trump Organization, a public service-- especially since Trump has refused to divest himself).  There are several grounds for impeachment in these facts alone. Ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard for crying out loud!  If you can't link to it and want to read it, e-mail me and I'll get it to you. 

03 March 2017

I recommend this new news website of the resistance, so to speak


Trump: reasonable and serious grounds to suspect refusal to reveal evidence (Tax Returns, other things) that likely indicate widespread violation of the Emoluments Clause and actual conflict of interest precluding continuing as president. 

Sessions: plain evidence on the record of a serious crime: lying to Congress during confirmation hearing. Various excuses are extremely thin.

Remember, impeachment is the charge. They are presumed innocent in their trial before the Senate, if they don't have the intelligence and good grace to resign.

Thing is, we're not naive. This probably won't happen. But that DOES NOT MEAN Democrats should not be insisting on it. Indeed, they should say, we will not entertain any other business apart from national security emergencies until these matters are resolved.

02 March 2017

Oldest fossil evidence for life ever found announced

In the news this week is a truly important scientific finding. (Trump is not truly important). 

Researchers (link below for more info) have eliminated other possible explanations for fossils that reliably date to 3.75 b.y. old. These are microfossils of what are essentially bacteria or bacteria like organisms. What is so significant about this is that it pushes back, right to the actual time when life first became physically possible on this planet, after the period of Solar System history referred to as the Late Heavy Bombardment (when asteroids collided with the inner planets regularly... they're the origin of the giant maria, actually craters, on the Moon). Before that, the surface was regularly literally melted, so that life could not have obtained a foothold. This suggests that either of two broad historical contingencies must have occurred: 1. A spectacularly unlikely event, the origin of life, just happened to occur almost immediately after it first became physically possible. Or, as is at least suggestibly more likely, 2. The origin of life itself is NOT spectacularly unlikely, and, in fact, is likely to occur relatively readily once conditions favorable to it are in place.

As a comment: Indeed, recent investigations have suggested that several other contingencies in the history of life leading to the complex biosphere Earth now has may have been much LESS likely (in that they took a long time to manifest and occurred only once). These would include the evolution of a truly efficient system of photosynthesis and the emergence of eukaryotes, which resulted from the merger of cells belonging to entirely different kingdoms, bacteria and archaea, to form cells with interior organelles that emerged as a whole new form of life, the Eukaryota. (Almost all life visible to naked eye is Eukaryotic).